Dancer bent at the waist in a large white skirt.
0 4 min 3 mths

Grupo Corpo is a Brazilian dance troupe that infuses modern dance with elements of Brazilian style and culture. 

Their performance so clearly painted emotion on stage through movement. The first piece, Gil Refazendo was light, effervescent, and joyous, while the second, Gira, was darker, elemental and sensual. 

Gil Refazendo is named after Brazilian composer Gilberto Gil, and is about renaissance, or rebirth. The dancing was a celebration of movement, spring, and vitality. It felt like being with my most cheerful friend. The second piece, Gira, is a study in Afro-brazilian spirituality. The set is dark, and the dancers emerge and disappear behind flowy shrouds, as if they are spirits themselves. The juxtaposition between the two pieces reflects choreographer Rodrigo Pedernerias’ range and skill with the medium. 

Appreciating a dance performance can be hit or miss because it can be hard to understand the story or the sentiment behind the movement. This was not an issue at Grupo Corpo because there was such clear emotion embedded in both pieces, strengthened by the mesmerizing dancing. To better understand the intention behind the pieces, I strongly recommend reading the program notes online

Two dancers in white facing each other, with their legs kicked up high.
Grupo Corpo – Gil Refazendo. Photo by Jose Luiz Pederneiras

Pedernerais’ choreography utilized the dancers in an amorphous manner. The troupe is one of the largest I’ve seen at the Kennedy Center, almost twenty dancers. And while in select climatic moments all dancers were on the stage, Pedernerais strategically creates small groups (2, 3, 5, etc) of dancers that break off and form subgroups, like dancing in the round. It’s like drops of water coming together only to separate again into a different shape. Grupo Corpo’s choreography is known for being physically expansive, permeated with kicks, twirls, and high lifts. 

And while the dancing was phenomenal, unfortunately the costume choices in the second piece were distracting and almost overshadowed my enjoyment of the artistry. Costumer Freusa Zechmeister outfitted each dancer in Gira with structured fabric skirts and nothing else. In an effort to remove the consideration of gender in their costumes, gender became even more apparent when everyone was topless. 

In my opinion, there are other, more effective ways of equalizing gender, such as the same shirt or nipple covers for everyone. The costume choice either intentionally wanted to start a conversation on gender or was completely ignorant of the very gendered society that we live in.

The costume choice of Gira also was in direct conflict with Gil Refazando, where the costuming was so clearly divided by gender – those with female presenting bodies wore shorts with linen shirts while the masculine presenting bodies with long pants and linen shirts. 

The costuming ended up distracting from the performance itself, such that it became the most memorable part of attending Grupo Corpo’s performance.


Final Grade: B+

Grupo Corpo was only at the Kennedy Center for March 1-2, 2024. So while this review will come out after the tour passes through DC, I hope it’s persuaded you to see them next time they’re in town. 

Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes (with a 20 minute intermission)

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